Commentary

Keeper saves the day for Reitz Memorial

Updated: November 29, 2009, 8:48 PM ET
By Sheldon Shealer | ESPNRISE.com

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- On a chilly evening in St. Louis with the scoreboard clock quickly racing toward 0:00, "The Streak" appeared to be over.

Then, senior Andy Diehl scored on a deflection in the closing seconds of regulation and sophomore keeper Auston Bruder delivered a penalty kick save in the shootout as Reitz Memorial (Evansville, Ind.) escaped with a 2-1 shootout victory over Glenwood (Chatham, Ill.) in the Adidas bracket of the Gateway City Soccer Classic on Friday at Christian Brothers College High School.

The result pushed Reitz Memorial's national-best undefeated run to 65 matches, a streak that should be severely challenged in today's semifinal contest against Marquette Jesuit (Milwaukee, Wis.) or in the championship match against either Zionsville (Ind.) or Christian Brothers.

With 90 seconds left in regulation, players on the Glenwood sideline were on their feet anticipating the surprise victory. Reitz Memorial's seemingly last push forward started with a throw-in near midfield. After the ball was played into the penalty area, Diehl redirected the ball toward the goal. The Glenwood keeper made the initial save, but Diehl was able to poke the rebound into the net with 1:23 left in the match to tie the score and set up the dramatic penalty kick finish.

"Our guys have a huge amount of heart and I'm really proud of them because you could have easily given up," Reitz Memorial coach Bill Vieth said. "We weren't getting any bounces. We weren't playing as well as we can. And we just sort of grounded out an equalizer to get us into the overtime penalty kicks. Sometimes you learn how to win and I think our guys have done that here tonight."

Prior to the shootout, there was a lengthy discussion between officials, keepers and the coaches on the rules. In Missouri, keepers are allowed to charge from the line upon the official's whistle during penalty kicks, a stark contrast to the more common national rule that keepers cannot move forward until the ball is struck. Since the match was played in Missouri, the Illinois team (where moving forward is allowed) and Indiana team (where it is not allowed) abided by the home state rule.

Bruder attempted to rush the ball on the whistle but surrendered goals on Glenwood's first two chances. Rietz Memorial answered with two scores of its own, but Bruder did not like the rush-the-ball approach.

"It was really uncomfortable and went back on my own style [on the third attempt], staying back on the line and it seemed to work out for me," Bruder said. "They went right two times and usually teams don't go to the same side three times in a row. I made myself as big as possible and went to the other side and got a save out of it."

Reitz Memorial capitalized on Bruder's save by making its next three penalty kick attempts, capped by Tyler Vieth's winner, for the victory.

"We went to penalty kicks last year at the state championship and I was one who missed it, so I wanted to get one back for us and kind of make it up," Tyler Vieth said of his game-winner.

Glenwood took a 1-0 lead midway through the second half on a goal Devin Pettis.

PROPS TO THE MIDWEST: Home field advantage or simply better soccer?

Two teams from Colorado and one from New York made the trip to the St. Louis area for the Gateway City Soccer Classic, and all three teams were banished to the consolation round by schools from Kansas and Missouri during Thursday's first-round action.

In Friday contests, Grandview (Aurora, Colo.) defeated Rockwood Summit (Fenton, Mo.) for what stands as the only victory over a Midwest school recorded by the Colorado and New York schools this year.

In the five years of the Gateway event, non-Midwest schools sport an all-time combined record of 10-22-2. The Western teams are 6-11-1 and the East teams are 4-11-1.

TOUGH BREAK: Not even a broken arm could keep the nation's all-time winningest coach off the sidelines Friday.

Christian Brothers College (St. Louis, Mo.) coach Terry Michler fractured his left arm Thursday night in a fall at his home, shortly after returning from CBC's match. Michler said he was reaching to his right when his left knee gave out and he sustained a fall that resulted in the break. Michler said he waited until Friday to go to the emergency room and had the arm put in a cast and sling just hours prior to CBC's match against Dunbar (Lexington, Ky.). Michler sat on the bench for Friday's 5-0 victory, and said he will be coaching in Saturday's matches, as well.

Michler is the only high school soccer coach to top 800 career victories.

MOVING ON?: Larry Thornburg resigned as the boys' soccer coach at Hickman (Columbia, Mo.) on Friday, just hours before the team made its debut in this year's Gateway City Soccer Classic, according to event organizer Eric Stratman. Stratman did not know the reason for Thornburg's resignation. The Columbia Daily Tribune cited two school sources confirming the resignation.